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Longer Commutes, Shorter Lives

The New York Times Magazine – The Costs of Not Investing in America [read free] “For decades, spending on the future put the nation ahead of all others. What would it take to revive that spirit?…The lack of recent progress is not a result of any physical or technological limits. In other parts of the world, travel has continued to accelerate. Japan, China, South Korea and countries in Europe have built high-speed train lines that have tangibly improved daily life. Because the United States is less densely populated, high-speed trains would not work in much of this country. But they could transform travel in California, the Northeast and a few other regions — and it is not as if this country has been improving its highways and airline network instead of its rail system. All have languished. Why has this happened? A central reason is that the United States, for all that we spend as a nation on transportation, has stopped meaningfully investing in it. Investment, in simple terms, involves using today’s resources to make life better in the long term. For a family, investment can involve saving money over many years to afford a home purchase or a child’s college education. For a society, it can mean raising taxes or cutting other forms of spending to build roads, train lines, science laboratories or schools that might take decades to prove their usefulness. Historically, the most successful economic growth strategy has revolved around investment. It was true in ancient Rome, with its roads and aqueducts, and in 19th-century Britain, with its railroads. During the 20th century, it was true in the United States as well as Japan and Europe…”

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